2018 to Current

2019-21 Dennis Harders


I was born in Great Bend, Kansas in December 1947. I am the third child in a family of eight children. My father, who was also born in Great Bend, never moved out of the area until the later part of 1949, and never stopped moving. We moved first to Duncan, Oklahoma, then Colorado Springs, Colorado, Joplin, Missouri, El Cajon, California, Tucson-Glendale-Phoenix-Prescott, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, and finally Tustin California. I graduated from Tustin High School in 1966. I met my wife, Sandi, in high school. We were married in August 1967, and are still together to this day.  Moving this much, I learned to talk to anyone and everyone, and I haven’t stopped talking since.

Since I was not ready for college after high school, I joined the US Army in June of 1967. I left the Army after three years of service, and moved back to Tustin. I went to work for Thrifty Drug Stores from July, 1970 to July, 1978.  While working for Thrifty, I transferred to Tucson, Arizona in 1972 and Albuquerque, NM in 1975.  I currently live in the house my wife and I bought in 1975.

In December of 1978, I joined the New Mexico National Guard. I went to OCS (Officer Candidate School) and earned my commission in June, 1980. I transferred to the US Army Reserve in 1987 and retired in September 1994.

After leaving Thrifty Drugs, I spent fifteen months working for a grocery broker. In March, 1980 I went to work for the William Wrigley Jr. Co., the makers of Doublemint-Spearmint-Juicy Fruit chewing gum.  I retired from Wrigley’s after twenty-five years at the age of 57, and have not regretted a day of retirement.

Sandi and I had discussed going to Death Valley when we lived in southern California, and later in Arizona, but never went. We finally made it to Death Valley in 2007 when we went to the Death Valley ’49ers Encampment.  I had a good time even though I had car battery problems most of the week we were there. I went to the DV ’49ers general meeting and decided I wanted to become an Advisor, and I just kept coming.

I was asked if I would be the chairman of the Golf Tournament for 2008, which is a position I still have. A few years later, I became a member of the Budget Committee and I am now Chairman of that committee. A year or so later I was asked to consider becoming president of the organization. I said yes! My tenure as Death Valley ‘49ers President will come to a close at the end of the 2015 encampment.

I have enjoyed being a member of the Death Valley ’49ers and I am looking forward to the future with this organization.

2018, 2022-23 Robert Whipple


For twenty-three years, I worked and traveled with different companies building high rises,  tunnels, and bridges with structural concrete crews.  In 2000, I went to work for the DOD and the Marine Corps as a mechanic on tanks, trucks, and assault vehicles. In 2004, I became an Industrial Specialist working the clerical end of the business.

One of my main passions is volunteer work; giving back to my community and devoting time to the organizations that mean the most to me.  Currently, I am very active with the Wounded Warriors Battalion West of the Marine Corps, and the youth football leagues here in the High Desert of Southern California.

I have been a member of the Death Valley ‘49ers since 2007.  Over the years, I have worked at the Encampment with the production and setup crews. Starting in 2012, I worked my way up through the executive board positions; first as 2nd Vice President, then 1st Vice President, and now, as President of this great organization. Every year I enjoy meeting all the folks who attend our Encampment, and spending time with the hard-working volunteers who make each event a success. It is a true honor and privilege to stand with the entire group of Presidents who have served before me.  In closing, for myself and the rest of my fellow ‘49er volunteers, we welcome you to the 65th Annual Death Valley ‘49ers Encampment, 2014.